Category Archives: technology

5 Lessons Learned From Creating Videos

I did my first video on December 30, 2010, when I was testing my new webcam. Since that time it seems I’ve created 13 videos, 12 from the webcam and one from my smartphone. I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things and I think I’ve gotten better since that first one.

The 5 lessons I’ve learned aren’t major things probably, but I think each of them are first steps towards figuring out how people want to put their videos together. Of course I’ve tossed my own flair in because, after all, it’s me.

I’m also doing something a little different for me in that I’m putting this same video on two blogs at the same time. I figure that in general the audience for each is different, but the video will work well for both. The video is below this, but for those who don’t watch the video, here’s the list of my 5 lessons:

1. Video’s not so easy to do.

2. One has to consider their background.

3. One has to figure out the best lighting to highlight their face.

4. One should rehearse their presentation before just sitting down before a camera and going for it.

5. If your video has anything to do with business, mention your website, including the domain, and spell it if necessary.

And now, video!


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Aftermath Of My Firmware Upgrade

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the dangers of updating one’s technology. After trying as much as I could to get my webcam’s working again without success I decided it was time to make some significant changes in my technology. Even with this, possibly I still haven’t learned my lesson, although, at the present time, things are fine.

I decided the router just wasn’t coming back after that stupid firmware upgrade and that it was time to buy a new one. I figured that even if it didn’t fix my camera it would be 7 years newer and under warranty, and thus the good people at Cisco would talk to me. Yeah, I went out with the intention of buying another Linksys, and I bought the one to the right here. But not without controversy; you know how my life goes by now. lol

I first went to Best Buy because I knew they had a router on sale. The router that was on sale wasn’t bad, but something in me said not to skimp at this juncture and to make sure I got a 802.11n as opposed to the “g”. The “n” is the latest wireless technology, so why go backwards, right? The difference was about $50, as I was going to get the E2000.

I also decided it was time to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, since I had some extra cash and had suffered from another Vista lockout; stupid Vista. After I grabbed the router I went to check on the price of the upgrade, which was $119; not bad.

I had to go to the Geek Squad desk, and of course no one was there. I was customer service reps helping other people so I decided to sit on the stool and wait for them to come over. Five minutes later I’m still sitting there, and the customer service reps are to the side having a good time with some kind of conversation. What the hey?

Not in the mood to be totally ignored for once I called out “Hey, customer over here waiting to buy something.” It’s like they never knew I was there; have I happened to mention that I’m not quite a small guy and that my skin tone is a little dark? After they were startled the young woman walks towards me, then disappears. Some seconds later she comes out, followed by a guy who, though he was wearing the white shirt and black tie, looked like one of the worst representatives of customer service that anyone might ever ask for.

I tell him what I want and, of all things, they’re out of the upgrade disk. I mean, come on… how can Best Buy, the top technology store in the country (are there any others) that has almost everything, be out of the one product that most people are still buying more than any other when it comes to software? He tries to talk me into buying the professional version but at $80 more than the upgrade and with nothing in it to entice me, since I’d done my research at home, I declined, left the router there, and went to Staples.

Staples had the Windows 7 Home Premium, so I grabbed that then went to look at the routers. They had the E2000, but they also had the E1500 Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost, at a cost of $20 less than the E2000. I love the speed boost so it was a no-brainer; that plus the lower cost.

I came home, hooked up the router, and life was great. I’m maxing out my top download speeds, over 20MBPS, and my cameras work again; whew! Happy as a clam, I still decided to wait until later in the evening to load Win 7, when my wife went to bed.

A friend of mine, who’d been trying to talk me into doing this for over a year, said it would take around 45 minutes to load. Sorry folks, but it took my computer 4 hours to load the program. Stuff just seems to happen to me. Luckily I could still get online with the laptop if I chose to but I decided to chill and watch TV instead. Made it through two movies waiting for it to finish, and around 2:45 in the morning it was done. I ran some tests, it worked pretty well, and I was happy.

Next day I started uploading all the security updates and decided to hold off for some time before loading the service pack. Good thing I did because as soon as I loaded the service pack my computer locked up and it wouldn’t let me do anything. It said I had to sign in as administrator but there was no place to logoff to sign in as anything. No programs would open, and nothing would work except to keep shutting it down and rebooting. It wouldn’t even let me run system restore. Finally I got smart, booted up in smart mode, got into the programs area and uninstalled the service pack, and all is right with the world again.

Since then I’ve been scared to try it again, and I also haven’t loaded IE 9; not sure why, but I’m not feeling it. Still, this is way more stable than Vista ever could claim, and the computer will actually shut down and reboot when I ask it to; just amazing.

Why tell this story? Because if it can happen to me it can happen to others, and hopefully folks will think about safe mode booting and other stuff instead of spending hours doing lots of other stuff that probably won’t work.

By the way, major word of warning. Before you load Win 7 or any new operating system make sure you back up “special” files, just in case. What’s special? People always remember to back up documents, images and sound files, but often forget to back up the profiles for their email and browser bookmarks, which are located under the Users area, AppData. Those folders are big, but trust me, if you lose all your email and your bookmarks you’ll be lamenting the fact that you didn’t take caution.

Okay, now I can just wait for Jessica to stop by and pick on me because I don’t have a Mac. lol

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2013 Mitch Mitchell

Quick Hitters Two

Wow! Almost a year to the day I wrote a post called Some Quick Hitters For A Sunday. That was before I started my weekly Sunday Question series. In that post, which turned out to be more than 1,100 words and thus not very quick, I tackled Olympic hockey, Syracuse University Basketball, a Commission Junction affiliate that never paid me, people stealing my posts, and snow; it’s always about snow in central New York. This post will be on different topics as well, but I expect it to be much shorter than last year’s post. Then again, it should be, right?


No, not Jerry Mouse!

Let’s start by talking about your mouse. Yes, the mouse you use on your computer. Does it have a scroll button on it? If so, did you know that, while looking at your browser, if you hold down the Ctrl-key and scroll either up or down that you can increase or decrease the size of the window you’re looking at? up, works for both fonts and images. There are some things that won’t get larger, though, but 98% of everything you try it on it will work. And it doesn’t matter the browser, although someone who has a Mac will have to tell me if it works there.

Second, you notice how the code on this blog is set up to do what’s called “justifying”? That means that the right side is always even; the blog does it automatically. Thing is, this was the only one of my blogs that did it; none of the others did, and none of my websites did it either. I decided I needed to change that so I went into the Stylesheet CSS of each of my other blogs, looked for something that said .postContent, then added this line of code: text-align: justify;. That’s it; and yes, you have to add the semicolon as well. Saved it and everything worked like a charm. In general I’d want to slap myself for teaching those who aren’t all that familiar with coding something like this, but it’s simple and your blog will look fantastic. And yes, there might already be another “text-align” in there, but that’s okay.

And, just to mention this, you can use this same code, only in a slightly different way, to get your websites looking smooth as well. At the very beginning of your wording, add this tag, without the little stars: [div align=”justify”], but obviously instead of the brackets use < and >. I had to put the bracket in there to keep the post from making the code disappear. Then at the end of all your wording, add this: [/div], again using < and > instead.

One more justification tip, this time with Word or Publisher. You probably know already about left, center and right justify. If you’re like me, you’ve never clicked on the last one next to right justify. Well, click on that, and your entire paragraph will justify; freaky! I haven’t been able to find it in Excelyet, but I’m going to keep looking.

Next, have you ever wanted to add the year of copyright to your blog? My friend Keith wrote a post titled Dynamically Add A Copyright Year To A Website. Basically there’s this bit of code you add to your footer and viola, somehow it knows what year it is and it’ll add that code to every blog page. Neat, right?

Then I decided I wanted more. I wanted something like that for all my websites, because I always forget to update that and don’t want to always have to do it every year. I came upon this blog by a lady named Cathy Stucker, who wrote code on this post titled Update The Copyright Date On Your Blog Or Website. The code she has works great, and I’m now using it on all my websites, although I have so many pages that I haven’t added to all the pages yet. I did change one thing, though; instead of having the word ‘copyright’, I use this HTML code instead to give me this © symbol; remove the stars, and make sure to add the semi-colon: &*#*1*6*9*;

You probably think we’re done, but I have one last thing for you. If you’re like me, every once in awhile you copy something that you want to paste somewhere else. Sometimes it’s in all caps, and what that usually means is that you have to re-type it. Not anymore! Copy it and pop it into Word. Highlight it, then hit Shift – F3. That will change everything to small letters. Hit it again and it’ll capitalize only the first letter of each word. Hit it one more time to go back to all caps; course, why would you want to do that? Neat little trick, right?

And there you go; some quick hitters, this time something useful. And it is shorter than the last post, though not by much. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Testing The Webcam

Lo and behold, I have a new webcam, my first ever. I was going to say that Santa bought it for me but that would be a lie. I’ve thought about having some kind of camera on my computer for a long time and decided to give myself a Christmas treat.

It turns out not to be as easy as one might think it would be, especially for someone who’s used to professional speaking. Figuring out where to look was an interesting challenge, and I was doing some things during the couple of practice runs that I had to quickly train myself not to do. Anyway, here’s the video:

There’s a few things I had to do to get the video on here.  I didn’t want to have to go to YouTube, so I installed a plugin called Embedded Video.  Then I had to switch to WYSIWYG so I could access the program, as that’s the only way it shows.  The last tab of the program allows you to pop in the link to the video, which is on my own website, and thus you see the video. Once I saw what the code looked like, I went back and got out of WYSIWYG and only used the code I saw before in my normal mode to see if it still worked, and it didn’t. So, it would seem that you can’t just write the code and add a video that way; sigh…

Also, my original file was around 183MB, so I had to upload it to my site, which took awhile being that big, but the video seems to be doing its job, and I’m a happy guy.

So, this post ends up being a great learning tool as well as you seeing my video; it’s all good. I did go back and find out that the webcam I bought today is the one I’m showing down below; it’s pretty neat and fairly inexpensive. I bought one for my wife as well today to replace her obsolete one once I got her a Win 7 machine.

What do you think?

Update If you don’t have a very fast internet connection it’s going to take forever for the video to load. I’m learning on the go, and I realize that’s a really huge file for many people. Sorry about that in advance.

Update II It turns out I actually have a YouTube account, though I have absolutely no idea where it came from. Anyway, the video is now able to be viewed by everyone; go for it! 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

Solid State Drives – The Way Of The Future?

A little over a week ago I wrote a post about this hard drive that I was going to be buying for myself, the Apricorn secure hard drive. For me, it’s a needed commodity to protect some of the confidential information given to me by my clients, as well as one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

Yet, there’s something else that’s been on my mind lately that I want to talk about. That’s this thing called solid state hard drives. From what I’m understanding, solid state drives are much faster, much more durable, and definitely much lighter than conventional hard drives. This last one I can easily confirm because while I was out of town, someone allowed me to pick up their relatively new laptop, and it had almost no weight to it.

What makes it durable? It has no moving parts and is smaller and more contained. You know that noise you hear when you turn on your computer? That’s the hard drive and fan powering things up, but mainly it’s the hard drive. With solid state drives, you barely hear anything.

As for it being faster, well, I haven’t seen that in person, but research indicates that, depending on what you’re testing it against, in some instances it’s a bit more than twice the speed of a traditional hard drive, and more than three times as fast in other tests.

How does solid state technology work? I have to admit that one is beyond me, not knowing anything about electronics, but I’ll make kind of a comparison. For those folks old enough to remember, televisions used to contain these big tubes, multiple tubes, which powered the television and produced the images. By the late 70’s, tubes had been replaced by transistors, kind of flat panels that could handle all of that stuff. The same thing occurred with radios, and many of us remember that we could finally walk around with these small, light radios when they became transistor radios; before that, we couldn’t easily walk around with our music.

Anyway, solid state drives are something like that. Instead of spinning plates and the like, it’s something like transistors that’s replaced them. That means you can’t shake them and damage them, don’t have to worry as much about an electric shock destroying one, and it would take a lot for it to burn out like hard drives do now, since they don’t heat up the same way.

What’s the catch? Right now, solid state drives can cost tons more than regular drives. You can get a 300GB hard drive for less than $100 in many circumstances nowadays. A 120GB solid state drive will cost you at least $250; that’s kind of steep. The price of some drives is even higher. Of course, most people will never use more than 50GB, but that’s not quite the point. We all have our reasons for wanting something different. The friend who showed me his laptop, which weighs less than 2 pounds overall, travels a lot, and he can just toss it into a shoulder bag and go on his way, instead of having to put it in a bag like mine, which weighs about 7 pounds on its own.

Think I’m kidding? Ask yourself why the laptop below costs so much with only a 128GB hard drive; it’s not just because it’s a MacBook.

15.4 MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz 2GB RAM 128GB SOLID STATE Hard Drive NVIDIA GeForce 9400M SuperDrive

Price – $2,049.00






Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell